Mortgage insurance premiums (PMI) are paid by homeowners with less than 20 percent equity in their homes. These premiums were deductible in tax years 2012, 2013, and once again in 2014; however, this tax break ended on December 31, 2014.
Whether it will be extended for 2015 is unknown. Mortgage interest deductions for taxpayers who itemize are not affected.
Exclusion of Discharge of Principal Residence Indebtedness
Typically, forgiven debt is considered taxable income in the eyes of the IRS; however, this tax provision, which was extended through and expired at the end of 2014, allows homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed on or subjected to short sale to exclude up to $2 million of cancelled mortgage debt. Also included are taxpayers seeking debt modification on their home.
Taxpayers who are age 70 1/2 or older can donate up to $100,000 in distributions from their IRA to charity. Some people do not want to take the mandatory minimum distributions (which are counted as income) upon reaching this age and instead can contribute it to charity, using it as a strategy to lower income enough to take advantage of other tax provisions with phaseout limits.
Note: Be sure to review the Sales Tax deduction that was extended. Because it is based on income tables, this deduction would go down if your income goes down.
Donation of Conservation Property
Also extended through 2014 was a tax provision that allowed taxpayers to donate property or easements to a local land trust or other conservation organization and receive a tax break in return.
Teachers' Deduction for Certain Expenses
Primary and secondary school teachers buying school supplies out-of-pocket may be able to take an above-the-line deduction of up to $250 for unreimbursed expenses. An above the line deduction means that it can be taken before calculating adjusted gross income.
State and Local Sales Taxes
Taxpayers that pay state and local sales tax can deduct the amounts paid on their federal tax returns (instead of state and local income taxes)--as long as they itemize. In other words, if you're thinking of buying a big ticket item such as a boat or car and live in a state with sales tax, you might want to think about buying it this year.